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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
OK thread title is probably a little ... controversial?

I'm doing a music course and the theory component started off really well last semester and has really filled in some gaps for me so that was all good. This semester it's all been about counterpoint. Which is just boring me to tears.

Is this stuff actually useful to a sax player? I cant even rememebr all the rules without a list in front of me let alone when I'm playing. How can I get something useful out of it?

Cheers :lick:
 

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1. You can use it to write nice arrangements
2. You can use it to solo with 2 horns at the same time without clashing.
3.
How can this possibly be boring?
 

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I enjoyed learning about counterpoint...And, yes think of it as lessons in arranging for multiple horns. I actually found the dialog with Aloysius quite entertaining! :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I can understand the compositional value, but can you actually use it in a real world playing scenario?
 

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I can understand the compositional value, but can you actually use it in a real world playing scenario?
Gerry Mulligan uses it all the time. Isn't composing a tune(or arrangement) a real world playing scenario?
 

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Gerry Mulligan uses it all the time. Isn't composing a tune(or arrangement) a real world playing scenario?
Sure, but when you can't even play standards inside and out then trying to compose your own stuff amounts to walking before crawling IMO. I just think there's a lot of other theory stuff to get down before tools for composing.

I'm happy to be wrong here but I can't see how me or anyone else in the course I'm doing is going to be able to use it at this stage. Some of the kids in the course can't even hold a basic form down.
 

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Counterpoint is boring you to tears........

Then you must really be crying when you listen to Bach...
Ronald
Can't argue with that!
The classic Mulligan Quartet--minus piano---was a great illustration of counterpoint in jazz. Duke used it a lot too.
I suppose it comes down to ones own interest in these things--many players run a mile from theory of any sort. I've often had people phone about lessons-- when I did them----and ask if they need to read music, with fear and dread in their voices!
 

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I'm happy to be wrong here but I can't see how me or anyone else in the course I'm doing is going to be able to use it at this stage.
You're talking about common practice counterpoint, learning the voice-leading rules, avoiding tritones and parallelism and whatnot?

From a jazz improv standpoint, which is where you're coming from, I don't think you're wrong -- spending time learning those rules ain't gonna give you much bang for the buck in terms of improvisation.

Learning counterpoint can be moderately helpful for composing (depending on what you're doing), can be kind of fun if you're so inclined, and can really make you appreciate just how glorious Bach is. But from a jazz improvisational standpoint, it's pretty far removed...

One thing it might do for you is to solidify your recognition of and understanding of intervals, and that IS useful from an improv standpoint.
 

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For someone/many "modern" players that aren't into melody(and harmony) I can see how counterpoint would bore them to tears.
 

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Write some 4 part lines for yourself and your 3 best sax playing friends. You'll learn some counterpoint and be thrust into the fun world of transposition and voicing in a big hurry It's all practical and useful if you have it down. If not, someone else will!
 

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I am among those who find counterpoint to be one of the coolest aspects of music. Counterpoint was around before chords, and it was what led to the use of chords in western music. Not only is it beautiful, but it was vastly important to the development of music. I'm guessing you don't find counterpoint itself boring, but rather the way it's being taught, i.e. you feel the "rules" are restricting you creativity.
 

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Everything you learn about any aspect of music is only going to improve you as a musician and as a thinker. Repairing saxophones even helps me play them better...learning Beethoven on the piano makes me a better bass player...you should embrace every bit of musical education you can get, whether you want to compose or just blow a few choruses. Look at it this way- I bet even if he couldn't recite the rules of counterpoint, Bird KNEW them and used them. You don't just need to know it to stay out of the way of other sax players- sometimes you play counterpoint to what the bassist is doing, or even to what another instrumentalist is merely suggesting. All musical knowledge has value, all the time. You gotta get inside it as much as you can!
 

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I would reccomend buying "15 Two Part Inventions". This is a collection of Bach arranged by Larry Teal. (Theodore Presser). Work on these and try some different approaches (straight or legit, swing, bossa, etc). Then, write out a third or fourth part as part of your practice in counterpoint. A study of Bach`s counterpoint can really open up your thinking and, yes, this can be used in a gig. You may not use the actual lines but what you learn will allow you to "hear" things you did not before. This collection is for alto but also comes with an insert in Bb for tenor. Record the parts and play along with the recording you have made. Listening to Glenn Gould playing Bach couldn't hurt either! Good luck in your studies.
 

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Gerry Mulligan uses it all the time. Isn't composing a tune(or arrangement) a real world playing scenario?
+1 you should listen 'All the things you are' from mulligan with paul desmond... then you will find out if than can or not be played in a real scenario and how to do that... no more comments will be need.
 

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Is this stuff actually useful to a sax player?
If you are in a university music program its goal is not to give you only what is relevant to you as a blues sax player, it is to give you as much as it can to help you become a well rounded musician. If you can't accept that premise, you're in the wrong place.

Regarding how counterpoint can help you, in addition to what's been mentioned above - even if, as Kelly says, some of the "rules" don't specifically apply to jazz counterpoint - studying 18th C. cpt. gives you a disciplined and orderly way of learning to control your cpt., which should become intuitive when you do write/play counterpoint in the future, and in no matter what idiom. I have found it very worthwhile even though I don't adhere to the rules, the philosophy behind them is always working somewhere there in the background when I play or write.

SaxPunter, you seem to be having some growing pains that I've seen time and time again when people who have been working as amateur musicians in a limited area jump into an academic program. There is a certain degree of insecurity and disorientation that goes along with a genuine thirst and enthusiasm for expanding one's knowledge and skill. Be patient with yourself. :bluewink:
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Thanks all, these are the sorts of responses I was after. I'll work a bit harder on understanding it now.

SaxPunter, you seem to be having some growing pains that I've seen time and time again when people who have been working as amateur musicians in a limited area jump into an academic program. There is a certain degree of insecurity and disorientation that goes along with a genuine thirst and enthusiasm for expanding one's knowledge and skill. Be patient with yourself. :bluewink:
That's a fairly accurate assesment too I think Gary, Cheers
 

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I guess I'm in the minority here, because I pretty much disagree with everyone who says that counterpoint "may" help a little. IMHO, counterpoint is the underlying infrastructure that makes everything else work. It's the reason for dominant harmony. Internalizing the rules of voice leading will make you a competent improviser. Not that the "rules" can't be broken, but more often than not, a melodic leap creates a feeling of two melodic lines, and it sounds better if both resolve, for example. I'd go so far as to say if you don't have a solid grasp on voice leading, you can't play changes. That's not to say that you have to study counterpoint to get there... you don't have to study your times tables to know 4x4=16, either, but it helps.
 
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